I did all the work. Signed the papers. Talked to the people. He sat despondent with shoulders hunched. Averting eyes and silent. I kept it cheery, but not too cheery. It was rehab, not summer camp. They called his name and said it was time to go. We hugged and he left.
I drove the seven or so hours home feeling relieved. At least I know he'll be safe for 30 days.
The next month was gruesome. It was really my first taste of being a single mom. Although I look back and see that I had been one for some time.
I called the office daily to make sure he was ok. He was alive and withdrawing. Recovering. I left messages. I said many prayers. And I worked my ass off to care for our babies, go to work and keep it all afloat.
About a week into it, I received my first call. I sensed a clarity in his voice I hadn't recognized for some time. A little piece of the person I remembered seemed to have returned. I was hopeful. He was too. The kids just thought Daddy went away to work on a big project in another city.
The rehab held a family weekend after a few weeks in. I drove down and checked into my little cabin. I didn't know what to expect. It was like our first date. When I arrived and got out of my car, he was nearby and walked towards me. Life and vibrancy were back in his eyes. He smiled broadly and hugged me hard. We cried in our long embrace.
The weekend was a mix of individual and family classes. In between class time and over meals I met some of his new friends. I also noticed an atmosphere that made me uneasy...patients bragging about their drugging days, women prancing around the guys and an overall feeling like this was some sort of high school detention camp.
My gut was screaming. I ignored it. I am supposed to be supportive. But what I very quickly understood then was I didn't have clout to speak up or call anything out because I am not an addict. "We just don't understand."
We closed out the family weekend meeting with his therapist. As we began to leave he called me aside. He shared that Michael was a hard patient for him to work with. Ummm, welcome to my world dude. He described how he would over dominate sessions and had anger and shut down episodes. I didn't mention that to Michael. I didn't want to upset him. <--- see that, right there...that's the egg shells I walked on...it was fucking exhausting.
As we said our good byes outside of his cabin, he hugged me. Excitedly, he whispered. You can call me directly now. You don't have to go through the operator or worry about the curfew. He waved me to the porch and he reached inside the door to show me a telephone. I was confused. And I guess...happy(?). My gut squirmed. My heart raced. I wanted to go home.
It's not surprising that he went around the system. He wasn't supposed to have a phone or take calls directly. And there we were...he had the hook up.
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Photo Credit: Jonathan Stout